US embassy cable - 87LONDON20480

AFGHANS SELL US STINGERS TO KHOMEINI

Identifier: 87LONDON20480
Wikileaks: View 87LONDON20480 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy London
Created: 1987-09-21 16:29:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PREL MOPS IR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 211629Z SEP 87
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6222
INFO AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY KABUL
AMEMBASSY AMMAN
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
USIA WASHDC 4890
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 20480 
 
E.O.12356: N/A 
TAGS:  PREL, MOPS, IR 
SUBJECT:  AFGHANS SELL US STINGERS TO KHOMEINI 
 
1.  THE SUNDAY TIMES CARRIED A STORY ON SEPTEMBER 20 
ALLEGING THAT THE U.S. HAS CUT OFF SUPPLIES OF STINGER 
MISSILES TO THE AFGHAN MUJAHEDEEN BECAUSE SOME OF THE 
REBEL COMMANDERS HAD SOLD STINGERS TO THE IRANIANS FOR 
MONEY AND POLITICAL FAVOR. 
 
2.  BEGIN TEXT. 
 
AFGHANS SELL US STINGERS TO KHOMEINI 
 
THE UNITED STATES HAS CUT OFF SUPPLIES OF STINGER 
ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES TO AN AFGHAN GUERRILLA GROUP 
AFTER DISCOVERING THAT AT LEAST 16 OF THE WEAPONS WERE 
SOLD BY THE RESISTANCE TO IRAN. 
 
OTHER MUJAHEDDIN LEADERS EMBARRASSED BY THE REVELATION, 
SAID THAT AS A RESULT RESISTANCE TO THE SOVIET-BACKED 
AFGHAN REGIME HAD COLLAPSED IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN. 
 
THE STINGER, WHICH IS SHOULDER-FIRED AND SIMPLE TO USE, 
IS CONSIDERED BY MILITARY EXPERTS TO HAVE TIPPED THE 
BALANCE OF THE EIGHT-YEAR WAR IN THE MUJAHADDIN'S 
FAVOUR.  THE UNITED STATES STARTED TO DELIVER LARGE 
NUMBERS OF STINGERS TO AFGHAN REBEL GROUPS LAST YEAR, 
AND THIS LED TO HEAVY LOSSES AMONG AFGHAN AND SOVIET 
HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS. 
 
- 
TWO COMMANDERS FROM THE HEZBI ISLAMI PARTY OF YOUNIS 
KHALIS, ONE OF THE STRONGEST OF THE SEVEN GUERRILLA 
GROUPS, ARE IMPLICATED IN THE SALE.  IT APPARENTLY 
EARNED THEM 10M TOUMANS (ONE MILLION DOLLARS) AND 
IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH THE REGIME OF AYATOLLAH 
KHOMEINI.  THE GROUP IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTALIST FACTION 
AMONG THE AFGHAN RESISTANCE AND MAINTAINS 
REPRESENTATION IN TEHRAN. 
 
THE COMMANDERS WHO ARE SAID TO HAVE SOLD THE MISSILES, 
MULLAH MAHIULLAH OF NIMROOZ AND MULLAH FAQIR-AHMAD OF 
ANAR DARA, WHO CONTROLS THE KHASH RUD DISTRICT, WERE 
SUPPLIED WITH 36 MISSILES.  THEY DENY HAVING SOLD THE 
WEAPONS AND INSTEAD CLAIM THAT THEY WERE CAPTURED BY 
IRANIANS INSIDE AFGHANISTAN. 
 
THE RESULTING SHORTAGE OF STINGERS IN THE REGION HAS 
PROVED DISASTROUS FOR THE MUJAHEDDIN.  "NINETY NINE 
PERCENT OF NIMROOZ WAS IN COMMUNIST HANDS," SAID AN 
OBSERVER IN THE PAKISTAN BORDER TOWN OF QUETTA.  "ONLY 
KHASH RUD WAS LEFT.  ALL SUPPLIES TO HERAT HAD TO GO 
THROUGH KHASH RUD, SO IT WAS VITAL TO KEEP THE WAY 
OPEN.  NOW KHASH RUD HAS BEEN BOMBED FLAT AND 
RESISTANCE HAS VIRTUALLY CEASED THERE." 
 
WESTERN AFGHANISTAN HAS BEEN CONSIDERED RISKY FOR THE 
US BECAUSE THE AREA MAINTAINS CLOSE HISTORICAL AND 
ETHNIC LINKS WITH NEIGHBOURING IRAN.  MOST OF THE 
AFGHAN SHI'ITE POPULATION LIVE THERE.  "COMMANDERS COME 
TO PAKISTAN AND SWEAR ON THE KORAN THAT THEY HAVE NO 
LINKS WITH KHOMEINI.  THEN THEY GO AND SELL WEAPONS. 
WHAT CAN YOU DO?" ASKED ON OBSERVER.  "MULLAHS HAVE NO 
SENSE OF NATIONALITY," HE ADDED.  "ANY MUSLIM COUNTRY 
IS THEIR HOME AND THEY CONSIDER IRAN TO BE WAGING JIHAD 
(HOLY WAR) AGAINST IRAQ." 
 
MANY LOCAL COMMANDERS ARE BITTER ABOUT THE SALE OF 
STINGERS.  ONLY FOUR COMMANDERS IN THE KANDAHAR AREA, 
AND THREE IN NIMROOZ, ARE KNOWN TO HAVE THE MISSILES. 
EVEN POWERFUL LOCAL COMMANDERS, SUCH AS ABDUL RAZIQ OF 
AFGHANISTAN, HAVE DIFFICULTIES IN OBTAINING THE 
WEAPONS, WHICH ARE DISTRIBUTED THROUGH PAKISTAN. 
UNCOMFIRMED REPORTS EARLIER THIS YEAR MAINTAINED THAT 
THE IRANIANS HAD USED STINGERS TO SHOOT DOWN IRAQI 
AIRCRAFT IN THE GULF WAR.  THE US, WHICH DENIED THESE 
REPORTS, IS CONCERNED THAT THE WEAPONS WILL FALL INTO 
TERRORIST HANDS, OR WILL BE COPIED AND SUPPLIED IN 
LARGE NUMBERS TO OTHER HOSTILE STATES SUCH AS LIBYA. 
 
IN THE FLAT COUNTRY SURROUNDING KANDAHAR, WHICH HAS 
BEEN A MUJAHEDDIN STRONGHOLD, THE NEED FOR 
ANTI-AIRCRAFT WEAPONS IS ACUTE.  THE GUERRILLAS TRAVEL 
BY TRUCK ALONG DUST TRACKS AND ARE EASILY SPOTTED BY 
OBSERVATION PLANES FITTED WITH NIGHT-SENSING 
EQUIPMENT.  COMMANDERS AND JOURNALISTS VENTURING TO THE 
WEST HAVE OFTEN FOUND THEMSELVES THE TARGET OF AN 
ORGANISED HUNT.  I ENCOUNTERED FIVE AMBUSHES IN THE 
REGION DURING A THREE-WEEK TRIP.  END TEXT. 
 
3.  KABUL - MINIMIZE CONSIDER. 
 
PRICE 

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